A look at tomorrow's opposition
Bristol Rovers travel north to visit Morecambe’s Globe Area this weekend looking to recover from the narrow midweek home loss to high flying Rotherham.
Rovers’ performances since John Ward’s arrival have been marked by a steely determination to grind out results where necessary. This is in marked contrast to the performances earlier in the season, such as that during the home game against Morecambe.
After a sluggish start from both sides Rovers began to get their noses in front as the first half drew to a close, but the home side capitulated after the break and failed to take anything from the game. Gary McDonald opened the scoring for the visitors, before defender Nick Fenton made it 2-0 five minutes later and Kevin Ellison completed the scoring for the Shrimps.
On Saturday the Shrimps produced the shock of the day in League Two as they beat Port Vale, at Vale Park, to secure their third win in four games. The game started with Port Vale quickly on the attack and Ryan Burge tested the seasider’s Barry Roche in the first minute of the game after a free flowing move.
After that early scare Morecambe settled into the game and matched the home side. Andy Wright forced Chris Neal into a save after a quickly taken corner before Jim Bentley’s side produced the best chance of the first half when Gary McDonald hit a cross to the far post forcing Kevin Ellison to divert wide at full stretch with Neal nowhere to be seen.
Lewis Alessandra scored the only goal of the day just after 63 minutes to give the Shrimps their 6th away win of the season and equal their home tally. It took them to 10th in the table and just 7 points off a Play Off spot.
Alessandra capitalised on a mistake from former Preston keeper Neal. Neal stretched for and then dropped a Gary McDonald cross into the path of the striker who bundled it over the line from the edge of the six yard box.
From there it was all Port Vale especially when Morecambe were reduced to 10 men with Wright handed a red card for a second yellow 18 minutes from time. Ashley Vincent pushed the ball past Wright, who couldn't get out of the way before the winger crashed into him. Referee Dave Phillips felt it was deliberate and Wright, having been cautioned in the first half for foul on Myrie-Williams, was sent off.
Daniel Jones smashed in a 25 yard effort that was well saved by Roche and Vale were at last building up a head of steam when League top scorer Tom Pope was off target with a header and Myrie-Williams drilled wide after a corner.
Things were becoming desperate towards the end as the home side piled forward, but the ball wouldn't drop for them as a string of crosses failed to find a target. When one did, Pope rose highest to direct another header on goal, only for Roche to save on the line.
Jones fired in another shot from distance that whistled just past the post before Myrie-Williams had an injury-time effort from an angle, punched out by Roche, Richard Duffy picked up the loose ball only to see his goal-bound strike diverted away.
Last season the Shrimpers were looking to consolidate their position in League Two but surprised everyone by topping the table by October after just three defeats (one of which was a 3-2 home loss to Rovers). A run of poor form leading up to Christmas saw the club drop to mid-table where they stayed for the remainder of the campaign.
Last season Rovers secured a double over the Lancashire team. A 2-1 home victory and that 3-2 away win. At the Mem Lee Brown opened the scoring, 12 minutes after half time, tapping in an Eliot Richards cross that was touched on by Scott McGleish.
With 15 minutes left to play McGleish tucked away a penalty awarded after Danny Carlton tugged Matthew Lund's shirt. Jordan Burrows then missed a chance for the Shrimps but Kevin Ellison fired in the rebound in the 88th minute.
In the game at the Globe Arena Cain Bolger gave Rovers the lead on 27 minutes. Then 12 minutes into the second half the Shrimps hit two quick goals from Jason Price and Kevin Ellison. Scott McGleish almost immediately pulled the scores level before Joe Anyinsah won the game for the Gas on 72 minutes.
Talking about last Saturday’s game Morecambe defender Andy Parrish described it as, “The best league win of the season so far. The Capital One Cup win over Blackpool on the first day of the season was probably the high of the campaign so far but this was the best league win of the season without a doubt.
“To beat the league leaders on their home ground was a great achievement and I think we deserved it because of our hard work and determination. They threw everything at us but our lads threw their bodies in front of everything that came at us and there was a huge determination to keep them out.
“We have now won four out of five and can start looking at the teams above us rather than over our shoulder and it is a great position to be in.”
Manager Bentley commented, "It was a terrific win against a fantastic team with a very good manager. I hope Vale go up. I watched them a couple of times and knew we had to stop the supply to the front two as much as possible. We worked very hard in training on how to do that and it's come off for us.
"The game could have gone either way and fortunately the result has gone for us. We had to ride the storm, especially after we went down to 10 men, but the lads have defended magnificently, Barry Roche has made some good saves and I'm very proud of all of them.
"The plan was to hit Vale on the break and we've managed to do that. We had two or three other promising situations before we scored and Lewis tucked the ball away well. We've got a great spirit in the group. All I ask of them is they give everything for the shirt and they've certainly put a shift in."
With Morecambe on a high and Rovers looking to bounce back this has all the ingredients of the two form teams pulling out all the stops to produce a real crackerjack of a match.
Written by Gerry Prewett.